A Greed of Goldfinches.

Also, an anguished fucking climate change! For a few brief days, the weather here was unseasonably warm, and there were actual bare spots of ground to be seen here and there. It was enough to trick the Lilac into budding prematurely. The snow came back, and with it, freezing weather. All the noise about an hour ago prompted me to look out my studio window, where there were many goldfinches gorging themselves on the buds. Click for full size.

GG1

GG2

GG3

GG4

[Read more…]

The Political Email Entanglement: Wayne Tracker.

email

Oh, politicians and their email. If one is guilty of committing an email no-no, they all are. Honestly, it’s when politicians try to be smart that they plumb the depths of stupid. Emailitis is doing the rounds of many new appointees. We’ll start with Wayne Tracker, also known as Rex Tillerson. What a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.

Another alias email account — that of “Wayne Tracker”— is poised to cause problems for a high-level official, this time former Exxon CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson used an alias email account from at least 2008 to 2015 to discuss climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said in a court filing Monday.

Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and the Securities and Exchange Commission are currently investigating whether Exxon defrauded the public by engaging in a campaign to discredit climate science, propping up the value of its oil and gas reserves. The Wayne Tracker email account — Tillerson’s middle name is Wayne — was discovered in the course of the investigation, known as the Exxon Knew case.

“This is a significant development in Schneiderman’s investigation into what Exxon knew about climate change, when it knew it, and what the company did to conceal it,” Naomi Ages, Greenpeace’s lead on the climate liability project, said in a statement. “Was Rex Tillerson that worried about climate risks for Exxon? Or was he more worried about the risk of revealing them to his shareholders and to the public? Or was it both?”

Documents uncovered in 2015 suggest that as far back as the 1970s, Exxon scientists knew that burning fossil fuels were the primary contributor to climate change.

Environmentalists have long been saying that to prevent catastrophic climate change, humanity needs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels. But Exxon — as well as the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests — have worked against that effort, funding attempts to discredit the theory of global warming.

It is illegal for a company to withhold liability risks from its shareholders.

[…]

It has come to light that, as governor of Indiana, now-Vice President Mike Pence conducted official business via an AOL account that was subsequently hacked.

[…]

EPA head Scott Pruitt’s emails are also under scrutiny. His former office, the Oklahoma Attorney General, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit to force the release of emails between Pruitt, his deputies, and oil and gas interests. Pruitt also used a private email account to conduct official business, a fact he denied during his Senate confirmation hearing.

For all the people screaming over Hillary Clinton using a private, secured server for emails, to the point of wanting her locked up, where’s all the yelling over Pruitt, Pence, and Tillerson? Why is it their particular fuck-ups and deliberate obfuscation and lying is okay? It’s not even making minor scandal points among the Trumpholes, which goes to show, I suppose, they never actually gave one tiny shit about Ms. Clinton’s emails, they simply used it as an excuse, and unfortunately, it’s one that worked, as we now find ourselves neck deep in a corrupt regime.

Think Progress has the full story.

Kliluk in nsyilxcen.

spottedlake_2

In the heart of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, lies a lake like no other. Known as kliluk in nsyilxcen, it is a site of deep spiritual and cultural significance for the Syilx Okanagan people. Throughout winter and into spring, this lake looks like any other body of water, nestled away in the rolling hills with a shallow depth and shimmering surface.  However, as the summer sun grows hotter and its rays beat down on the lake, water evaporates, lowering the surface level over time. As the water level drops, interesting shapes begin to break the surface.

As the summer heat drives on, it becomes clear that these shapes are sections of giant circles, which are normally lying invisible just below the surface. Now, with the hot summer providing no relief or added water, the circles continue to reveal themselves. Colourful pools of water appear at their centre, displaying gorgeous hues of yellow, blue and green. These beautiful ‘spots’ give this magical lake its English name – ‘Spotted Lake’. The lake’s beauty is only half the story though – its history is fascinating as well.

‘Spotted Lake’ has no outflow; no river or creek to drain it, and receives all its water as run-off from the surrounding hills. Each year, as snow melts and flows into the basin, it brings with it minerals and salts, which accumulate year over year, century over century. As the summer sun evaporates the water, the salts become exposed and the spots change in size and colour over a matter of months, creating these beautiful fluctuating hues, based on the mineral composition of each spot.

You can read more here. And a couple of videos:

Indigenous Activism Roundup.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Mni wiconi—”water is life”—appear to be empty words to the federal government, but they now constitute a battle cry for Native nations as they rise together in the U.S. capital today to voice their discontent with the Trump administration’s policies regarding indigenous rights and power.

[…]

Organizers also want the public to know that this gathering is not just about the Dakota Access Pipeline, even though it now serves as the symbol of all that’s wrong with the government-to-government relationship that tribes and the federal government are supposedly involved in. Tribes point to the Trump administration’s fast-track actions on the pipeline sans meaningful consultation and environmental review serving as the tipping point for Indian country by making a mockery of free, prior and informed consent—the right of every other sovereign nation in the world. They hope to make the point that the federal government, in going forward with the pipeline against the tribes’ wishes, abdicated its role as trustee to protect the tribes’ rights and resources, and violated their sovereignty and self-determination.

Full Story at ICMN. Think Progress also covers this story.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

“The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe,” the Standing Rock Sioux said. “It has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.”

Full story at ICMN.

There is No O’odham Word for Wall.

TUCSON, ARIZONA—The Tohono O’odham Nation Executive Branch is firm on their stance against a border wall being built.

“[It’s] not going to happen,” said Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manual. “It is not feasible to put a wall on the Tohono O’odham Nation…it is going to cost way too much money, way more than they are projecting.”

TON Chairman Manuel went on to say, “It is going to cut off our people, our members that come [from Mexico] and use our services. Not only that we have ceremonies in Mexico that many of our members attend. Members also make pilgrimages to Mexico and a border wall would cut that off as well.”

ICMN has the full story.

This Is My Body.

1 MA7XcJEmVWHKbOPof9j8yA

This Is My Body. A figure stands in the middle of the image with arms outstretched. A red headband covers the forehead and long, loosely braided dark hair, parted in the middle. White streams down the face, and the eyes are red and swollen. The body has a bleeding wound on its side, a hole in each palm, and three rubber bullet wounds. Dark figures with riot gear border the figure to the right, while water from a vehicle cannon shoots down at the figure. (Art done by Joann Lee Kim).

Joann Lee Kim has a stunning body of work, do yourself a favour and wander over for a long look. I came across Ms. Kim’s work at The Establishment, specifically an article by Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr., about the days when 500 ministers descended on the NoDapl camp. I was there for that, and talked to several of the ministers. The ones I spoke with all seemed rather dazed and overcome by everything happening at the camps. The particular perspective of the article is an interesting one, and quite important, I think: Christianity Is Co-opting The Justice Movement. It’s an excellent article. Solidarity is more important than ever, as is making sure that solidarity is intersectional and inclusive. When it comes to christian involvement in major social justice fights, particularly indigenous ones, it is very important that attention is seriously paid to the colonial roots and colonial mindset which still rules most peoples’ thinking and actions, especially those of churches.

Have a read, highly recommended. And when you’re done, have a look around at the rest of The Establishment, a lot of good writing going on there.

76 Scientists On A Glacier.

The women of Homeward Bound. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

The women of Homeward Bound. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

…Seltzer’s colleagues were more knowledgeable than your average gaggle of tourists. The travelers on her trip were all scientists, and several of them focus specifically on climate change. What’s more, her 75 companions on the three-week trip were all women, bound together on the largest-ever, all-female expedition to Antarctica. The trip was the focal point of a year-long leadership development program called Homeward Bound, which aims to groom 1,000 women with science backgrounds over the next ten years to influence public policy and dialogue.

While women made up more than 50 percent of the US workforce in 2016, they represented only 24 percent of workers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Representation in public policy is even worse: Women hold less than 23 percent of parliamentary positions worldwide, and less than 20 percent of Congress is female. The founder of Homeward Bound told Reuters that inspiration came from the trip from hearing two scientists joke that a beard was a requirement to land an Antarctic research leadership role.

[…]

Steltzer echoed similar experiences. “At one point in time, women were present in equal measures to myself at a peer level,” she said. “But now that I’m in my early 40s, an associate professor, in many environments I’m in there are fewer women. There are ways we can do better.”

[…]

For Anne Christianson, a younger Homeward Bounder, the trip took on special importance for her work. Christianson is completing a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and her dissertation focuses on how climate change disproportionately affects women in developing countries. She points out that, while it was easy to see the consequences of climate change watching glaciers in Antarctica, it’s important to keep in mind how climate change threatens women around the globe.

“We have these cascading impacts [of climate change] on women that simply aren’t seen in men,” Christianson said. “Women generally don’t have enough capital to build our own resilience to climate change.”

Rising temperatures are melting Antarctica. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

Rising temperatures are melting Antarctica. CREDIT: Anne Christianson.

For Westerners, it’s easy to see climate change as a threat to poor and rural women in distant, impoverished countries. But climate change isn’t just melting glaciers in Antarctica and flooding cities in Bangladesh. It’s already imperiling women within the United States, and the threat is getting more dire. Over 83 percent of poor single mothers in New Orleans were displaced in the post-Hurricane Katrina housing crisis — a statistic that bodes ominously for future climate disasters.

“We’ve already had our own climate refugees in the Gulf and in Alaska,” Christianson said. “The majority of people in poverty in this country are women who will be less able to adapt to what’s coming with climate change. Having more resources allows you to move away from sea-level rise and heat waves, to switch jobs, to find alternate sources of food and fuel.”

Even for progressives in the United States, the link between climate and gender can be hard to grasp. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) attempted to start a conversation on the issue in 2015 in by proposing a resolution to recognize “the disparate impact of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change.” The bill moved nowhere fast in Congress and became a target for right-wing media, as outlets like Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and Fox News mocked a line in the bill that linked climate-induced food insecurity to prostitution.

[…]

Both Christianson and Steltzer say the female perspective in science is more important now than ever.

“There is a certain understanding that women scientists have of how hard it is to be heard, and right now all scientists are understanding what women scientists have experienced,” Christianson said.

“We’ve been in this state before, but a lot of our male colleagues haven’t,” Christianson said. “Because we’ve had to fight so hard for our personal rights, now that we’re trying to make our voices heard in our field of interests, and now that men are joining us for the first time, really, we can have more of a leadership role in how to make our voices heard.”

According to Hayhoe, that’s already happening. Female leadership in climate at the international level as playing a role in shifting the climate conversation.

Excellent reading, highly recommended. Full story here.

More good reading: Women are leading the way in HIV research.

Norway’s Storebrand Goes NoDAPL.

NorSR

© C. Ford. All rights reserved.

More and more efforts are directed at divestment, and Norway’s largest private investor has decided to go No DAPL.

The largest private investor in Norway has pulled out of three companies connected to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) because of the conflict at Standing Rock.

Storebrand, an Oslo-based financial-services company that specializes in sustainable, socially conscious investing, has sold off nearly $35 million worth of shares in Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, and Enbridge, the company announced on March 1.

“Storebrand has made the decision to withdraw all investments from the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, including positions in the North American companies Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Enbridge Inc. and Phillips 66,” said Storebrand in a statement on March 1.

“Our conclusion is that these are poor long-term investments, both for our pension customer and from a sustainability point of view,” the company said.

Storebrand had investments of $11.5 million in Philips 66, $7 million in Marathon Petroleum Corp. and $16.2 million in Enbridge Inc., for a total of $34.8 million, said the company. According to its website, it has been in operation since 1767 and was managing pension funds since 1917, pre-dating Norway’s social security system by 50 years.

“There is too much uncertainty, for us as an investor, as to whether there has been a good process that ensures the rights of all parties in the conflict,” said Matthew Smith, Head of Sustainable Investments. “There has been involvement by the United Nations, by President Obama, and President Trump. Caught in the middle are the people directly impacted by the pipeline.”

[…]

Storebrand tried numerous tactics to enact change, Smith said in the statement, but none of them worked.

“Generally, it is our belief that we can have a more positive effect on companies and situations by using our position as an owner to effect change. We have successfully done so on many occasions, but it doesn’t always work,” Smith said. “Storebrand has been in direct contact with the companies, and has worked with international groups of investors. Our most recent initiative is an investor letter, representing 137 investors with $653 billion assets under management, that encourages involved banks that have lent money to the project to use their position and influence to engender positive change and a reconsideration the routing of the pipeline.”

Storebrand was forced to conclude that “active ownership is not going to deliver a better outcome,” he said. “We do hope that this can give a final indication to the involved companies to reconsider the routing of the pipeline.”

The investor joins a growing number of companies and entities that have pulled funds from Wells Fargo and other banks that are financing DAPL, ranging from the City of Seattle to individual account holders. Others, such as New York City, have put DAPL banks on notice.

The decision was not easy, Smith told The Guardian.

“Divestment is a last resort,” he said. “When you divest from companies, you give up your possibility to influence companies to come to a better solution.”

Full story at ICMN.

Not Enough American Exceptionalism & Free Market Glory!

Zinn2

Credit: Democracy Now.

Republican Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren introduced a bill to the state legislature that will ban the works of historian Howard Zinn from any schools that receive public funds.

The Arkansas Times reported Thursday that House Bill 1834 would ban all public schools and open enrollment charter schools from “including in its curriculum or course materials for a program of study books or any other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn.”

Zinn is the author of “A People’s History of the United States,” the groundbreaking re-examination of U.S. history in terms of its effects on the poor, people of color and women.

What began as a fringe interpretation of history has gradually gained ground. In 2014 and 2015, Republicans across the country fought a pitched battle against the federal AP high school history program. Conservatives argue that the curriculum looks at U.S. history through the lenses of race and class, placing too much emphasis on slavery and Native American genocide and not enough on American exceptionalism and the glory of the free market economy.

Why you can’t go around teaching history that isn’t properly whitewashed, oh no. Lies are so much better. As usual, in that exceptional American way, the truth is the enemy. Full story here.

Adding to the load of exceptional American stupidity, is Ryan Zinke, the new Secretary of the Interior. What’s he done? Why, he’s lifted the ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Because lead doesn’t cause any harm at all, right? Right.

Naturally, the NRA is elated over this idiotic move. As lead causes the unintended deaths of birds and fish, you’d think perhaps all those avid hunters and fishers would have a moment of head scratching, and figure out that lead would mean less animals available for them to slaughter. And of course, having lead scattered all over the place, leaching into the ground and water, eh, what’s the problem?

In the hypocritical stupidity exceptionalism category, we have one Mike Pence, and his little email problem:

Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.

Cyber-security experts say the emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from hackers, given that personal accounts like Pence’s are typically less secure than government email accounts. In fact, Pence’s personal account was hacked last summer.

Back to the 1970s.

Burning Discarded Automobile Batteries, 07/1972.

Burning Discarded Automobile Batteries, 07/1972.

Trash and Old Tires Litter the Shore at the Middle Branch of Baltimore Harbor, 01/1973.

Trash and Old Tires Litter the Shore at the Middle Branch of Baltimore Harbor, 01/1973.

Clark Avenue and Clark Avenue Bridge. Looking East from West 13th Street, Are Obscured by Smoke from Heavy Industry, 07/1973.

Clark Avenue and Clark Avenue Bridge. Looking East from West 13th Street, Are Obscured by Smoke from Heavy Industry, 07/1973.

Something else people had to protest about, and fight tooth and nail to implement change – the utter disregard and damage being done, not only to our environments, but to all life. People fought like hell for change, and it took time, but change was effected. The photos? Life pre-EPA. It was wasn’t pretty. It was a choking stink. It was piles of garbage everywhere. Now the EPA has been gutted, and the Tiny Tyrant has been busy rolling back every single bit of fucking progress made in this area. A lot of people reading this weren’t born yet in the early ’70s. Unfortunately, you’re going to get a right taste of what it was like, and not in a good way.

More photos? See here. Feel like a bit of reading? See here.

Water, What Is It Good For?

Oh, who needs clean water, I mean that stuff isn’t good for anything at all, right? It’s not as if life is dependent on it or anything, after all, we can adapt to drinking toxic sludge.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign a measure on Wednesday aimed at rescinding a major Obama administration water regulation and direct an end to the government’s defense of the rule, a Trump official briefed on the plan said on Friday.

Trump is expected to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which expands the number of waterways that are federally protected under the Clean Water Act.

The rule was finalized by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 2015, and was blocked by a federal appeals court pending further court challenges.

The rule has faced intense opposition from Republicans in Congress, farmers and energy companies.

Critics contend the rule vastly expands the federal government’s authority and could apply to ditches and small isolated bodies of water. The EPA under President Barack Obama said the rule protects waters that are next to rivers and lakes and their tributaries “because science shows that they impact downstream waters.”

Full story here.

The Trump Regime is also busy attempting to hasten the death of everything in every way possible. Here’s reading:

Former member of Trump’s EPA transition team suggests air pollution doesn’t kill people. 4.2 million people died prematurely from air pollution in 2015.

Trump’s EPA policies risk more Alzheimer’s cases, doctors warn. Two new studies support findings that polluted air causes dementia.

Trump’s allies have some of the worst environmental voting records in Congress.

There’s much more here.

This Is Our Land.

Water Protectors Leave Oceti Sakowin Reluctantly.

‘Absolutely False’: No Contact From Trump Administration, Archambault Says.

marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020717
NODAPL; The Last Stand © Marty Two Bulls.
 
marty-two-bulls-cartoon-dapl-020117_WEB
No DAPL; Beware the Early Thaw © Marty Two Bulls.

Oh. So. Cool.

I want one!

large_1-7AGT6DuedmCPZX4jvRLO3A

Made for Ikea’s Space10, this is the Growroom, specifically made for cities, it can grow a communities worth of food and herbs. I’m not urban, but I still want one. The best news? Space10 and architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum have open sourced this, so anyone can make one.

You can see the specs at two places: one, two.

Sauvegarde Art.

Ours-Polaire1

Gilles Cenazandotti Polar Bear, 2016.

Fusing a story of sustainability and animal welfare,  the chromatic and playful sculptures fabricated from found objects ponder the future of the environment. Each of Gilles Cenazandotti‘s sculptures and assemblages are composed of polyurethane material culled from the Mediterranean Sea. The style of sauvegarde art, or safeguarding, is a unique environmental method that draws upon the French artist’s love for the environment and his love for forming art from unconventional materials. Formerly the head of a design company, the artist quit his day-job and sold the company four years ago in order to create detritus-amassed art.

Panther

Gilles Cenazandotti Black Panther.

“I imagine this universe in my sculptures, of the cities moving to what is necessary to the survival of the men. What will it occur when the tide will overflow of our rejected products? When will pollution touch so many species that life will be decreased? This science fiction is near where one already sees the animals changing territory. One can wonder what they will become, like so many already disappeared species, if they do not find any more spaces to live.”

Primate

Gilles Cenazandotti Baboon, 2015.

 

Gilles Cenazandotti, Briquets Triptych , 2016. 47.25 x 11 inches each. Lighters Found from the Sea on Altuglass.

Gilles Cenazandotti, Briquets Triptych , 2016. 47.25 x 11 inches each. Lighters Found from the Sea on Altuglass.

Remarkable work, and work with a very strong message. We need to stop being unthinking apes and be mindful humans. All of the work is deeply poignant, but it’s the lighters that get to me. FFS, is it that much to expect people to not treat our oceans like a convenient trash can?